Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Program destroyed (More SM Daily Journal coverage of Carlmont situation)

The other shoe has finally dropped for the beleaguered Carlmont long-distance running team. First, Ben Heck, who won the Peninsula Athletic League championship and finished second at Central Coast Section, quit the cross country team before the state championship race and did not go out for the track team.

Now, Jessie Petersen, a cross country standout in her own right and two-time defending CCS 3,200-meter champion, departed the track squad.

All over the heavy-handed and unbending way they - and the other long distance runners - have been treated by a new coaching staff and the school administration which apparently supports it. It appears all those runners who trained under former coach Jeff Gilkey - who was fired late in the 2008 cross country season - are being systematically eliminated from the squad, either through ridiculous contract requests or what is deemed sub-par coaching.

I understand the firing of Gilkey. What he did - entering a runner under the name of another - was wrong. He deserved to be fired. While he may no longer coach the Carlmont school team, a number of Carlmont runners continue to train with Gilkey for his club running team. The Carlmont administration and coaching staff don’t like that, so they tried to foist on the runners a contract which forbids them any kind of outside training or advice. Doing so would result in being kicked off the team.

It appears the coaching staff - and by extension, the school administration - has a vendetta against Gilkey and are taking it out on the kids who just want to run and train to be the best they can be.

How refreshing. In a day and age when many student-athletes are looking for ways to jake it during practice, here is a group that wants to work harder and they are being denied, in the name of keeping them from hurting themselves. There have been rumblings over the years the Carlmont runners put on too much mileage in high school and they have nothing left and break down in college. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but is it possible, in this vast country of ours, that there are cross country and track runners who are far and away better than the kids coming out of Carlmont?

To read the rest of the article, go to the following link:


Mike Shearer said...

Just to make sure it's clear - the runners did not train with the outside club while they were on the Carlmont track team, with one exception; very early in the season a couple runners received clearance from the Carlmont track HC to run in an indoor meet in another state. In the Los Gatos Open, only runners who had left the school team raced.

Essentially what the choice boiled down to for the experienced distance runners was continue on with the school team under what they considered poor training conditions and poor treatment from part of the coaching staff, or leave the school team and actively participate with the club team during the HS track season. The majority of the experienced distance runners obviously chose the second option.

I believe if the school had hired a distance coach with more experience and knowledge of the sport, most if not all of these athletes would have been competing for Carlmont today. As a side note, I wonder if this opinion is shared by any of the PAL coaches and if there are cases where it influences their position on this situation.

There have been various comments on various blogs saying that the school hired the coaches and those coaches should be able to dictate the training program. Generally speaking, this opinion is valid, however there is an implicit assumption of coaching competence. I also take exception to the common follow-on comment that the kids active with the club team are doing something wrong. The implication is that the school has the right to CHOOSE to hire whatever coach they want, but somehow if the runners CHOOSE to leave the school team they are doing something less than honorable.

The silver lining to this whole situation is the school's judgement in it's selection of a distance coach gives me hope that maybe I can still fulfill my lifetime dream of being a high school French teacher. I don't speak a word of French, but since I went to France once, I'm going to apply for the job at Carlmont anyway.

Marianne Asaro said...

Thank you Mr. Mollat for an article describing training impediments so many encountered in this environment at Carlmont. For many it didn't feel like they had a choice, other than being pushed out.

Syl Pascale said...

Nathan, you are completely wrong regarding the dismissal of Jeff Gilkey. He entered a runner under another name in an inconsequential (meaningless) cross country meet. Are you and the Carlmont Administration kidding me. This wasn't the Olympics, the National XC Champs, the California State meet, the CCS Championships, or even the PAL Champs, it was basically a practice meet. He should have been reprimanded and that is it. A jealous Coach from another local school reported the incident and started the snowball rolling down the hill. Now look at the mess he and the others involved in this situation have created. The athletes are hurt by this, as the CHS administration knows nothing or could care less about running.

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